Conflicts of interest pose special problems for the professions. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can undermine essential trust between professional and public. This volume is a comprehensive and accessible guide to the ramifications and problems associated with important issue. It contains fifteen new essays by noted scholars and covers topics in law, medicine, journalism, engineering, financial services, and others.
Financial relationships in academic research can create institutional conflicts of interest because the financial interests of the institution or institutional officials may inappropriately influence decision-making. Strategies for dealing with institutional COIs include establishing institutional COI committees that involve the board of trustees in conflict review and management, developing policies that shield institutional decisions from inappropriate influences, and establishing private foundations that are independent of the institution to own stock and intellectual property and to provide capital to start-up companies.
This study examines the extent to which scientific and biomedical journals have adopted conflict of interest (COI) policies for authors, and whether the adoption and content of such policies leads to the publishing of authors’ financial interest disclosure statements by such journals. In particular, it reports the results of a survey of journal editors about their practices regarding COI disclosures. About 16 percent of 1396 highly ranked scientific and biomedical journals had COI policies in effect during 1997. Less than (...) 1 percent of the articles published during that year in the journals with COI policies contained any disclosures of author personal financial interests while nearly 66 percent of the journals had zero disclosures of author personal financial interests. Nearly three fourths of journal editors surveyed usually publish author disclosure statements suggesting that low rates of personal financial disclosures are either a result of low rates of author financial interest in the subject matter of their publications or poor compliance by authors to the journals’ COI policies. (shrink)
This paper looks at conflicts of interest in the not-for-profit sector. It examines the nature of conflicts of interest and why they are of ethical concern, and then focuses on the way not-for-profit organisations are especially prone to and vulnerable to conflict-of-interest scandals. Conflicts of interest corrode trust; and stakeholder trust (particularly from donors) is the lifeblood of most charities. We focus on some specific challenges faced by charitable organisations providing funding for scientific (usually medical) research, and examine a (...) case study involving such an organisation. One of the principal problems for charities of this kind is that they often distribute their funds within a relatively small research community (defined by the boundaries of a small region, like an American state or Spanish Autonomous region, or a small country), and it often proves difficult to find high-level researchers within the jurisdiction to adjudicate impartially the research grants. We suggest and recommend options appropriate for our case study and for many other organisations in similar situations. (shrink)
The heart of the matter -- The evolution of the French medicine -- Coping with physicians' conflicts of interest in France -- The rise of a protected medical market : the United States before 1950 -- The commercial transformation : the United States, 1950-1980 -- The logic of medical markets : the United States, 1980 to the present -- Coping with physicians' conflicts of interest in the United States -- The evolution of Japanese medicine -- Coping with physicians' conflicts of (...) interest in Japan -- Reforms -- Professionalism reconsidered. (shrink)
The last years have seen a surge of scandals in financial intermediation. This article argues that the agency structure inherent to most forms of financial intermediation gives rise to conflicts of interest. Though this does not excuse scandalous behavior it points out market imperfections. There are four types of conflicts of interest: personal-individual, personal-organizational, impersonal-individual, and finally, impersonal-organizational conflicts. Analyzing recent scandals we find that all four types of conflicts of interest prevail in financial intermediation.
This collection explores the subject of conflicts of interest. It investigates how to manage conflicts of interest, how they can affect well-meaning professionals, and how they can limit the effectiveness of corporate boards, undermine professional ethics, and corrupt expert opinion. Legal and policy responses are considered, some of which (e.g., disclosure) are shown to backfire and even fail. The results offer a sobering prognosis for professional ethics and for anyone who relies on professionals who have conflicts of interest. The contributors (...) are leading authorities on the subject in the fields of law, medicine, management, public policy, and psychology. The nuances of the problems posedby conflicts of interest will be highlighted for readers in an effort to demonstrate the manyways that structuring incentives can affect decision making and organizations' financial well-being. (shrink)
Neuroscience research has improved our understanding of the long term consequences of sports-related concussion, but ethical issues related to the prevention and management of concussion are an underdeveloped area of inquiry. This article exposes several examples of conflicts of interest that have arisen and been tolerated in the management of concussion in sport (particularly professional football codes) regarding the use of computerized neuropsychological (NP) tests for diagnosing concussion. Part 1 outlines how the recommendations of a series of global protocols for (...) dealing with sports-related concussions (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Consensus Statements on Concussion in Sport) have endorsed the use of NP testing. The development of these protocols has involved experts who have links with companies that sell computerised NP tests for concussion management. Part 2 describes how some professional football leagues—in particular the National Football League (NFL), the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL)—have mandated specific NP testing products. They have done so on the basis of these international guidelines and by engaging experts who have conflicts of interest with NP testing companies. These decisions have also been taken despite evidence that casts doubt on the reliability and validity of NP tests when used in these ways. (shrink)
Until recently, many of Japan's medical and bioethical communities had ignored the issue of conflicts of interest . This is no longer the case. Discussion on the economic and ethical problems defined by CIs is now apparent in academic, political, and even industrial spheres. In June 2004, this debate was sparked by a scandal involving AnGes MG, Inc., a bioventure company set up by a faculty member at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. AnGes MG developed a gene therapy using (...) the Hepatic Growth Factor for obstructive blood vessel disease. Japanese newspapers reported that “several physicians involved with clinical trials for AnGes obtained unlisted shares of stock. One physician allegedly received 32 million yen after AnGes MG went public on the ‘Mothers’ stock exchange”. (shrink)
The current proxy voting system in the United States has become the subject of considerable controversy. Because institutional investment managers have the authority to vote their clients’ proxies, they have a fiduciary obligation to those clients. Frequently, in an attempt to fulfill that obligation, these institutional investors employ proxy advisory services to manage the thousands of votes they must cast. However, many proxy advisory services have conflicts of interest that inhibit their utility to those seeking to discharge their fiduciary duties. (...) In this article, we describe the current proxy advisory network as an example of how current notions of conflicts of interest fall short when explaining the behavior of an interconnected set of market players whose remit is to act in the best interests of their investors. We discuss what participants in this system should do to bring transparency and accuracy to the proxy advice industry. (shrink)
Our society has long sanctioned, at least tacitly, a degree of conflict of interest in medical practice and clinical research as an unavoidable consequence of the different interests of the physician or clinical investigator, the patient or clinical research subject, third party payers or research sponsors, the government, and society as a whole, to name a few. In the past, resolution of these conflicts has been left to the conscience of the individual physician or clinical investigator and to (...) professional organizations. The public is no longer willing to allow health care providers to wholly govern their own conflicts of interest for several reasons. These include: new forms of health care financing and delivery that provide innovative and lucrative opportunities for physician or insurer enrichment at patient expense; the increased importance of commercial research support as peer-reviewed governmental research support has decreased; evidence that physicians and clinical investigators too frequently resolve conflicts of interest in their own favor; and a general societal mistrust of authority. This volume represents a multidisciplinary effort, drawing from philosophy, medicine, law, economics and public policy to identify and categorize conflicts of interest in medical practice and clinical research, and, where possible, to offer a mechanism for resolving them. Part I addresses conflicts of interest from a theoretical perspective, offering basic concepts and analytical frameworks. The second part discusses two topics prominent in current health care policy debates--self-referral and financial incentives to limit care. Part III examines conflicts of interest generated by pharmaceutical industry involvement in clinical practice and research. The final section deals with conflicts of interest in clinical research in several contexts, including institutional reviews boards, clinical trials, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements between government and private researchers, brokerage of research subjects by Contract Research Organizations, and cost-effectiveness studies. (shrink)
As the debate over how to manage or discourage physicians? financial conflicts of interest with the drug and medical device industries has become more heated, critics have questioned or dismissed the concept of ?conflict of interest? itself. A satisfactory definition relates conflict of interest to concerns about maintaining social trust and distinguishes between breaches of ethical duty and temptations to breach duty. Numerous objections to such a definition have been offered, none of which prevails on further analysis. Those (...) concerned about conflicts of interest have contributed to misunderstandings, however, by failing to demonstrate when social arrangements leading to temptations to breach duties are in themselves morally blameworthy. Clarifying ?conflict of interest? is important if we are eventually going to develop productive modes of engagement between medicine and for-profit industry that avoid the serious ethical pitfalls now in evidence. (shrink)
Why do physicians have financial conflicts of interest? They arise because society expects physicians to act in their patients’ interest, while simultaneously, financial incentives encourage physicians to practice medicine in ways that promote their own interests or those of third parties. Because physicians’ clinical choices, referrals, and prescriptions affect the fortune of third parties, these third parties may offer physicians financial incentives to make income-driven clinical choices. In the past, physicians and scholars typically conceived of conflicts of interest as (...) an ethical issue to be resolved according to individual judgment or professional and organizational norms. However, society can mitigate or eliminate conflicts of interest by changing financial and organizational arrangements in medicine. Conflicts of interest, therefore, are as much matters of public policy and management as individual choices or social norms. (shrink)
Conflicts of interest held by researchers remain a focus of attention in clinical research. Biases related to these relationships have the potential to directly impact the quality of healthcare by influencing decision-making, yet conflicts of interest remain underreported, inconsistently described, and difficult to access. Initiatives aimed at improving the disclosure of researcher conflicts of interest are still in their infancy but represent a vital reform that must be addressed before potential biases associated with conflicts of interest can be mitigated and (...) trust in the impartiality of clinical evidence restored. In this review, we examine the prevalence of conflicts of interest, evidence of the effects that disclosed and undisclosed conflicts of interest have had on the reporting of clinical evidence, and the emerging approaches for improving the completeness and consistency of disclosures. Through this review of emerging technologies, we recognize a growing interest in publicly accessible registries for researcher conflicts of interest and propose five desiderata aimed at maximizing the value of such registries: mandates for ensuring that researchers keep their records up to date; transparent records that are made available to the public; interoperability to allow researchers, bibliographic databases, and institutions to interact with the registry; a consistent taxonomy for describing different classes of conflicts of interest; and the ability to automatically generate conflicts of interest statements for use in published articles. (shrink)
The actuarial profession has a long history of providing critical expertise to society. The services delivered are some of the most complex and mysterious to outsiders of all professions but little has been written about the professional responsibilities of actuaries in the academic literature beyond that of the profession itself. This paper makes the case that the issues surrounding professional independence of actuaries are, in principle, similar to those that faced the audit profession before the scandals and resultant regulatory changes (...) early this century. It is argued that, despite the position taken by the actuarial profession and management, the status quo raises genuine concerns about conflicts of interest and independence and that the risks that arise are of sufficient magnitude that they should at least be the subject of a full debate. (shrink)
Discussions of conflict of interest (COI) in the university have tended to focus on financial interests in the context of medical research; much less attention has been given to COI in general or to the policies that seek to manage COI. Are university COI policies accessible and understandable? To whom are these policies addressed (faculty, staff, students)? Is COI clearly defined in these policies and are procedures laid out for avoiding or remedying such situations? To begin tackling these (...) important ethical and governance questions, our study examines the COI policies at the Group of Thirteen (G13) leading Canadian research universities. Using automated readability analysis tools and an ethical content analysis, we begin the task of comparing the strengths and weaknesses of these documents, paying particular attention to their clarity, readability, and utility in explaining and managing COI. (shrink)
A core value of Judaism is leading an ethical life. The Talmud, an authoritative source on Jewish law and tradition, has a number of discussions that deal with honesty in business and decision-making. One motive that can cause individuals to be unscrupulous is the presence of a conflict of interest. This paper will define, discuss, and review five Talmudic concepts relevant to conflict of interest. They are (1) Nogea B’Davar (being an interested party), (2) V’hiyitem N’keyim (behaving to (...) ensure that one is above suspicion) (3) Lifnei Iver (placing a stumbling block before the blind), (4) Shokhad (accepting a bribe), and (5) Geneivat Da’at (deception and undeserved goodwill). Case examples will be used to apply these Talmudic principles to contemporary business practice. This will include discussion of these Talmudic concepts as it applies to specific contemporary business examples relevant to the boardroom, accounting firms, investment banking, politics, and government. It may be impossible to eliminate all conflicts of interest. However, knowledge and awareness of these Talmudic principles can help individuals in business settings better address the ethical issues that they confront. (shrink)
In this paper I address the conflict of interest (CoI) issue from a legal point of view at a European level. We will see that the regulatory framework that exists in Europe does state the need for the independence of ethics committee involved in authorisation of research and clinical trials. We will see that CoI is an element that has to be closely monitored at National and International level. Therefore, Member States and Newly Associated States do have to address (...) CoI in the authorisation process of research and clinical protocols of biomedicine. (shrink)
What is a conflict of interest? What is morally problematic about one? Beginning with the definition, this paper organizes the core literature and creates two continuums—one devoted to the more specific definition of ‘interest,’ and the other to that of ‘duty’. Each continuum places the authors according to the narrowness or broadness of their positions, which facilitates the understanding of the debate as well as what is at stake when defining conflicts of interest. The paper then develops a moral (...) analysis that leads to the sought-for definition and to an explanation of why we should treat conflicts of interest carefully. While doing so, the paper discloses the criterion to judge whether a definition is right and presents the duties that makes conflicts of interest special as ‘tertiary’ duties of morality. (shrink)
The potential for financial conflicts of interest (COIs) to damage the credibility of scientific research has become a significant social concern, especially in the wake of high-profile incidents involving the pharmaceutical, tobacco, fossil-fuel, and chemical industries. Scientists and policy makers have debated whether the presence of financial COIs should count as a reason for treating research with suspicion or whether research should instead be evaluated solely based on its scientific quality. This paper examines a recent proposal to develop criteria for (...) evaluating the credibility of research without considering its source of funding. It concludes that proposals of this sort are likely to be either ineffective or impractical in many cases. Nevertheless, this does not imply that all research funded by those with an interest in the outcome must be placed under a cloud of suspicion; there are conditions under which research is at much more serious risk of being corrupted than in other cases, and attention to these conditions can guide productive responses to financial COIs. (shrink)
Recently a great deal of attention has been paid to conflicts of interest in medical research, and the Institute of Medicine has called for more research into this important area. One research question that has not received sufficient attention concerns the mechanisms of action by which conflicts of interest can result in biased and/or flawed research. What discretion do conflicted researchers have to sway the results one way or the other? We address this issue from the perspective of selective inertia, (...) or an unnatural selection of research methods based on which are most likely to establish the preferred conclusions, rather than on which are most valid. In many cases it is abundantly clear that a method that is not being used in practice is superior to the one that is being used in practice, at least from the perspective of validity, and that it is only inertia, as opposed to any serious suggestion that the incumbent method is superior, that keeps the inferior procedure in use, to the exclusion of the superior one. By focusing on these flawed research methods we can go beyond statements of potential harm from real conflicts of interest, and can more directly assess actual harm. (shrink)
An area where conflicts of interest can take place in Estonia is in the conduct of clinical trials. The paper lists the main areas where such conflicts of interest can occur. The author also briefly discusses Estonia’s current position with regard to regulating genetic information and the commencement of the Estonian Genome Project.
A recent study by Olivieri et al, published in PLOS ONE, reports that between 2009 and 2015 a third of patients with thalassaemia in Canada’s largest hospital were switched from first-line licensed drugs to regimens of deferiprone, an unlicensed drug of unproven safety and efficacy. Based on retrospective data from patient records, the PLOS Study reports that patients treated with deferiprone, either as monotherapy or in combination with first-line drugs, suffered serious adverse effects. The data reported by Olivieri et al (...) give rise to a number of ethical issues. These ethical issues are identified, placed in historical context and analysed. For purposes of this analysis, reliance is placed on two core principles of research ethics, harm minimisation and informed consent, and also on the hospital’s mission statement. Then a mystery is explored: How and why did it happen that Toronto’s University Health Network treated large numbers of patients with an unlicensed drug over a period of many years? ‘Institutional conflict of interest’ is considered as a possible explanatory hypothesis. (shrink)
Extensive conflicts of interest at both individual and institutional levels are identifiable in scientific research and healthcare in China, as in many other parts of the world. A prominent new case from China is He Jiankui’s experiment that produced the world’s first gene-edited babies and that raises numerous ethical, political, socio-cultural, and transnational questions. Serious financial and other COI were involved in He’s genetic adventure. Using He’s infamous experiment as a case study, this paper explores the wider issue of financial (...) and other COI in scientific research and healthcare in China, especially institutional conflict of interest and policy-related COI. Taking a socio-ethical perspective, it examines China’s state policies and its massive efforts to transform and commercialize scientific research, the lack of policies and oversight mechanisms for regulating COI, as well as major ethical issues arising from COI including the undermining of public trust. Some practical suggestions are offered for institutional reform and institutional development so that COI, particularly ICOI, can be avoided or more effectively managed in scientific research in China. (shrink)
Conflicts of interest are common and exist in academia, government, and many industries, including pharmaceutical development. Medical journal editors and others have recently criticized “the pharmaceutical industry,” citing concerns over investigator access to data, approaches to analysis of clinical trial data, and publication practices. Merck & Co., Inc. is a global, research-driven pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets a broad range of human and animal health products, directly and through its joint ventures. Although part of its mission is (...) to provide a superior rate of return to its investors, Merck does not believe this creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest, particularly in activities concerning clinical drug development. We employ rigorous scientific methods to design, conduct, analyze, and report results of clinical trials in the development of innovative drugs and vaccines, with a focus on meeting unmet medical needs and with an ethic that puts the interests of the patient first. This article describes Merck’s approaches to potential conflicts of interest in drug development, particularly with regard to clinical trials. We believe that proprietary interests of the Company can be respected while observing objectivity and transparency in communicating clinical research results. The standards for the review of manuscripts reporting such trials for peer-reviewed publication should be the same, whether they are from Merck or elsewhere. (shrink)
Academic-industry collaborations and the conflicts of interest (COI) arising out of them are not new. However, as industry funding for research in the life and health sciences has increased and scandals involving financial COI are brought to the public’s attention, demands for disclosure have grown. In a March 2008 American Council on Science and Health report by Ronald Bailey, he argues that the focus on COI—especially financial COI—is obsessive and likely to be more detrimental to scientific progress and public health (...) than COI themselves. In response, we argue that downplaying the potential negative impact of COI arising out of academic-industry relationships is no less harmful than overreacting to it. (shrink)
The medical profession is under a state of increasing scrutiny. Recent high profile scandals regarding substantial industry payments to physicians, surgeons, and medical researchers have raised serious concerns over conflicts of interest. Amidst this background, the public, physicians, and policymakers alike appear to make the same assumption regarding conflicts of interest; that doctors who succumb to influences from industry are making a deliberate choice of self-interest over professionalism and that these doctors are corrupt. In reality, a myriad of evidence from (...) social science indicates that influence from conflicts of interest often occurs on a subconscious and unintentional level. This poses an important issue, since such conflicts can steer wellintentioned physicians away from their primary professional goal to provide the best medical advice and treatment possible. (shrink)
American universities are increasingly proactive in dealing with conflict of interest problems of their faculty. Changing social norms, publicized scandals, and more have made both university administrators and faculty extra alert to the dangers of faculty infidelity to their roles as teachers and scholars. Personal interests — both financial and non-financial — appear increasingly to pressure faculty to behave inappropriately. Most faculty members resist those pressures. Yet, enough conduct that either is, or appears to be, improper has occurred (...) to prompt the adoption by universities of an ever-more complex regulatory regime. This regime no longer relies primarily upon threats of after-the-fact punishment for gross deviations from professorial norms. Instead, universities have also enacted a wide array of in-advance restrictions. These include required disclosures by faculty members of certain private interests, prohibitions of specific faculty behavior, and specified instances in which faculty members must temporarily withdraw from their professorial roles in light of their private interests. This article draws especially upon the author’s experience at the University of California to illustrate the new system of regulation. (shrink)
Goldberg notes that the relationship is a component of Conflicts of Interests. Networks of relationships and the simultaneous presence of several interests are not negative per se but become so when they generate a conflict that undermines impartiality. The solution to the problem of COIs, therefore, cannot be to abolish relationships and the interests that they necessarily express but rather to verify whether those relationships are such as to unduly affect an individual’s judgement. The evolution of (...) an Italian legislation about COIs is eloquent in this regard. (shrink)
This article summarizes the April 5–6, 2002 conference on Conflict of Interest and Its Significance in Science and Medicine. Several themes are identified and addressed, including the globalization of science, the widespread presence of conflicts, the increased interest and involvement in conflict of interest by a number of organizations, the difference between academic research and research conducted by industry, and the tension between science and medicine. At the heart of the matter lies objectivity in research and the need (...) for transparency to ensure objectivity. Several future activities were discussed, including the need to share specific examples of how conflict has been managed, and the need for behavioral research to provide a sound empirical understanding of the best ways to provide informed consent for research subjects. (shrink)
The primary claim of this paper is that intellectual conflicts of interest exist but are of lower ethical priority than COIs flowing from relationships between health professionals and commercial industry characterized by financial exchange. The paper begins by defining intellectual COIs and framing them in the context of scholarship on non-financial COIs. However, the paper explains that the crucial distinction is not between financial and non-financial COIs but is rather between motivations for bias that flow from relationships and those that (...) do not. While commitments to particular ideas or perspectives can cause all manner of cognitive bias, that fact does not justify denying the enormous power that relationships featuring pecuniary gain have on professional behaviour in term of care, policy, or both. Sufficient reason exists to take both intellectual COIs and financial COIs seriously, but this paper demonstrates why the latter is of higher ethical priority. Multiple reasons will be provided, but the primary rationale grounding the claim is that intellectual COIs may provide reasons to suspect cognitive bias but they do not typically involve a loss of trust in a social role. The same cannot be said for COIs flowing from relationships between health professionals and commercial industries involving financial exchange. The paper then assumes arguendo that the primary rationale is mistaken and proceeds to show why the claims that intellectual COIs are more significant than relationship-based COIs are dubious on their own merits. The final section of the paper summarizes and concludes. (shrink)
Background: In biomedical research, there have been numerous scandals highlighting conflicts of interest (COIs) leading to significant bias in judgment and questionable practices. Academic institutions, journals, and funding agencies have developed and enforced policies to mitigate issues related to COI, especially surrounding financial interests. After a case of editorial COI in a prominent bioethics journal, there is concern that the same level of oversight regarding COIs in the biomedical sciences may not apply to the field of bioethics. In this (...) study, we examined the availability and comprehensiveness of COI policies for authors, peer reviewers, and editors of bioethics journals. Methods: After developing a codebook, we analyzed the content of online COI policies of 63 bioethics journals, along with policy information provided by journal editors that was not publicly available. Results: Just over half of the bioethics journals had COI policies for authors (57%), and only 25% for peer reviewers and 19% for editors. There was significant variation among policies regarding definitions, the types of COIs described, the management mechanisms, and the consequences for noncompliance. Definitions and descriptions centered on financial COIs, followed by personal and professional relationships. Almost all COI policies required disclosure of interests for authors as the primary management mechanism. Very few journals outlined consequences for noncompliance with COI policies or provided additional resources. Conclusion: Compared to other studies of biomedical journals, a much lower percentage of bioethics journals have COI policies and these vary substantially in content. The bioethics publishing community needs to develop robust policies for authors, peer reviewers, and editors and these should be made publicly available to enhance academic and public trust in bioethics scholarship. (shrink)
In spite of recent efforts to promote cooperation between universities and industry, Germany still lacks a sufficient legal framework for regulating potential conflicts of interest resulting from university-industry cooperation. Prospective regulation of conflicts of interest has to take into account specific constraints imposed by the German constitution. It has to follow stringent procedural and material requirements and carefully weigh the individual researcher’s right to academic freedom against the public demand for objectivity in research. Because of this cautious consideration of the (...) conflicting interests constitutionally mandated in Germany, a potential regulation legitimate in this country may serve as a model for other countries facing the need of the adoption of such a regulation. (shrink)
This paper has two distinct objectives. (1) I defend an analysis of the concept of a conflict of interest. On my analysis the concept of a conflict of interest is broader than is generally supposed. I argue that a very large class of cases not ordinarily regarded as conflicts of interest should be so regarded. Conflicts of interest are an integral feature of many professional relationships and do not (as is often supposed) require the existence of external financial (...) or personal relationships. (2) I defend and explain the commonsense view that conflicts of interest areprima facie wrong and argue that in ordinary cases it is wrong, all things considered, to allow an avoidable conflict of interest to occur. I attempt to establish these claims on the basis of weak and relatively noncontroversial assumptions. (shrink)
Sports medicine clinicians face conflicts of interest in providing medical care to athletes. Using a survey of college football players, this study evaluates whether athletes are aware of these conflicts of interest, whether these conflicts affect athlete trust in their health care providers, or whether conflicts or athletes' trust in stakeholders are associated with athletes' injury reporting behaviors.
Patient visits are an important opportunity for general practitioners to discuss the risks of smoking and cessation strategies. In Australia, the guidelines on cessation published by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners represent a key resource for GPs in this regard. The predominant message of the Guidelines is that pharmacotherapy should be recommended as first-line therapy for smokers expressing an interest in quitting. This, however, ignores established evidence about the success of unassisted quitting. Our analysis of the Guidelines identifies (...) a number of potential conflicts of interest which may have affected the advice provided. These include extensive funding by the pharmaceutical industry of sources cited to support the recommendations, and relations between members of the Guidelines Content Advisory Group and the pharmaceutical industry. Recommendations issued by professional bodies have enormous potential impact upon public health and there is a need for the highest levels of scrutiny and transparency in their development. Information about research cited in guidelines should include funding sources, and developers should be free of obvious conflicts of interest. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of global mortality. Concerns related to pharmaceutical industry funding of research, scientific integrity and recommendations on smoking cessation by medical advisory groups clearly have implications beyond Australia. (shrink)
Point-of-care evidence-based medicine websites allow physicians to answer clinical queries using recent evidence at the bedside. Despite significant research into the function, usability and effectiveness of these programmes, little attention has been paid to their ethical issues. As many of these sites summarise the literature and provide recommendations, we sought to assess the role of conflicts of interest in two widely used websites: UpToDate and Dynamed. We recorded all conflicts of interest for six articles detailing treatment for the following conditions: (...) erectile dysfunction, fibromyalgia, hypogonadism, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. These diseases were chosen as their medical management is either controversial, or they are treated using biological drugs which are mostly available by brand name only. Thus, we hypothesised that the role of conflict of interest would be more significant in these conditions than in an illness treated with generic medications or by strict guidelines. All articles from the UpToDate articles demonstrated a conflict of interest. At times, the editor and author would have a financial relationship with a company whose drug was mentioned within the article. This is in contrast with articles on the Dynamed website, in which no author or editor had a documented conflict. We offer recommendations regarding the role of conflict of interest disclosure in these point-of-care evidence-based medicine websites. (shrink)
: Protection of human subjects from investigators' conflicts of interest is critical to the integrity of clinical investigation. Personal financial conflicts of interest are addressed by university policies, professional society guidelines, publication standards, and government regulation, but "intrinsic conflicts of interest"—conflicts of interest inherent in all clinical research—have received relatively less attention. Such conflicts arise in all clinical research endeavors as a result of the tension among professionals' responsibilities to their research and to their patients and both academic and financial (...) incentives. These conflicts should be disclosed to research subjects and managed as assiduously as are financial conflicts of interest. (shrink)
There is an emerging awareness of the possibility of conflicts of interest in the practice of medicine in Croatia. The paper examines areas within the medical profession where conflicts of interest can and have occurred, probably not only in Croatia. Particularly addressed are situations when a doctor may have dual obligations and how independent ethics committees can help in decreasing the influence of a conflict of interest. The paper also presents extracts from the Croatian Code of Ethics for the (...) medical profession that address problems of conflict of interest. (shrink)
The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) takes the issue of conflict of interest very seriously. The overall aim is to preserve a climate in which personal and organisational innovation can flourish while ensuring that potential conflicts are disclosed and identified and conflicts are either avoided or managed with integrity. The approach needs to encompass the MRC’s various responsibilities and the levels at which conflicts might arise: MRC staff (scientists and administrators); the governing Council; research Boards and committees; external peer-reviewers; (...) and applicants for funding. To achieve its goals, the MRC has issued practical guidance on various aspects of conflict of interest. For the future, the MRC has identified the continuing commercialisation of science and the increasing involvement of lay people in scientific decision-making as special challenges in this area. (shrink)
No discussion of academic freedom, research integrity, and patient safety could begin with a more disquieting pair of case studies than those of Nancy Olivieri and David Healy. The cumulative impact of the Olivieri and Healy affairs has caused serious self examination within the biomedical research community. The first part of the essay analyses these recent academic scandals. The two case studies are then placed in their historical context—that context being the transformation of the norms of science through increasingly close (...) ties between research universities and the corporate world. After a literature survey of the ways in which corporate sponsorship has biased the results of clinical drug trials, two different strategies to mitigate this problem are identified and assessed: a regulatory approach, which focuses on managing risks associated with industry funding of university research, and a more radical approach, the sequestration thesis, which counsels the outright elimination of corporate sponsorship. The reformist approach is criticised and the radical approach defended. (shrink)
: This essay provides an analysis of conflicts of interest in science. It gives an overview of some current conflict of interest policies and distinguishes between real, apparent, and potential conflicts of interest. The essay argues that scientists should disclose real, apparent, and potential conflicts of interest and that they should avoid conflicts that threaten scientific objectivity or trustworthiness. The essay also uses several hypothetical scenarios to illustrate some of the key points made in the analysis and suggests some (...) strategies for buffering the impact of conflicts of interest in science. (shrink)
Recently adopted international texts have given a new focus on conflicts of interests and access to information resulting from biomedical research. They confirmed ethical review committees as a central point to guarantee individual rights and the effective application of ethical principles. Therefore specific attention should be paid in giving such committees all the facilities necessary to keep them independent and qualified.
This paper critically examines the proliferation of conflicts of interest discourse and how the most common conceptions of COI presuppose a hierarchy of primary and secondary interests. I show that a form of professional virtue or duty is commonly employed to give the primary interest normative force. However, I argue that in the context of increasingly commercialized healthcare neither virtue nor duty can do the normative work expected of them. Furthermore, I suggest that COI discourse is symptom of rather (...) than solution to the problems of market forces in contemporary medicine. I contend that COI, as it is commonly conceived, is an inadequate concept through which to attend to these problems. It is used as a procedural short-cut to address ethico-political problems. That is, it is an economic and policy concept expected to do significant moral and political work. Like most short-cuts, this one also leads to entanglements and winding roads that fail to reach the destination. As such, I suggest that we need a different set of ethico-political tools to address normative fluidity of medical practice in the absence on a primary interest. (shrink)
This paper examines Romanian bioethics regulations for biomedical sciences, looking in particular at the genetics area as a source for conflict of interest. The analysis is focused on the organizational level, national regulations, the sources for generating conflicts of interest, and management of conflicts. Modern biotechnology and gene technology are among the key technologies of the twenty-first century. The application of gene technology for medical and pharmaceutical purposes is widely accepted by society, but the same cannot be said of (...) the development and application of gene technology in agriculture and food processing. Because the use of a technology in the production and processing of food is regarded more sceptically than in the production of biomedical products, there can be areas of conflict in many cases when communication is undertaken about gene technology in the agro-food sector. Ethical concerns play an important factor in this, but a society’s attitude to a developing technology is an amalgam of many effects which are beyond ethics as such. (shrink)
The case study presented by Winch and Sinnott (2011) shows not only how difficult it is for clinicians and researchers to identify conflicts of interest (COI), but also how damaging it can be when there are unin- formed and uncoordinated policy responses by senior administrators.
The various statements and declarations of the World Medical Association that address conflicts of interest on the part of physicians as (1) researchers, and (2) practitioners, are examined, with particular reference to the October 2000 revision of the Declaration of Helsinki. Recent contributions to the literature, notably on conflicts of interest in medical research, are noted. Finally, key provisions of the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics (2000–2001 Edition) that address the various forms of conflict of interest that (...) can arise in the practice of medicine are outlined. (shrink)
Continued scientific and medical progress in Central and Eastern Europe depends on the development of an atmosphere that is conducive to implementing the changes that are necessary to bring better health and longer lives for everyone. Privatization and commercialization are threatening the objectivity of clinical research and the availability of health care because uncontrolled market mechanisms focused on profit are nurturing conflict of interest that generate bias and unreliability into research and medicine. Changes are needed that address the following: (...) – The amount of public support for basic and clinical research and health care, – standards for the conduct of clinical trials and delivery of health care, – administrative procedures for responding to the conflict of interest problem. (shrink)